When was the last time you shopped for new towels? Let’s face it, there are so many brands and styles of towels in stores, it is hard to know where to start. But, there are a few basic guidelines to help you narrow down the search including some links for soft, absorbent, and affordable towels, plus tips on how to keep your towels fresh-smelling, and fluffy. I am a Good Housekeeping insider so all of the knowledge I am sharing with you comes from the Good House Keeping Institute which tests all the products before they recommend them to their readers – remember the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval?
What to shop for?
My favorite thing is coming out of the hot shower and pulling a fresh, clean-smelling, white towel off the hook. It’s part of the bathing ritual. So the last thing you want is a too thin, or too thick towel that doesn’t perform well. If your towels are rough-feeling or don’t dry between uses, then it’s time to look for new ones. Towel shopping is based mostly on personal preference, but if you want super soft, very absorbent towels look for 100% cotton with dense, plush loops of yarn on the surface. You can also look at fabric weight, which is shown in GSM. Over 600 GSM is considered heavy, so these will typically be the plushest. Lighter towels like waffle weaves or ribs weren’t typically as soft in the GH textiles testing.
If you want a towel that’s quick-drying and more durable, consider a cotton-poly blend or a lighter fabric with a low pile (short loops). Fluffy loops help the towel feel soft and absorb water, but they can take longer to dry and may show more wear from laundering.
It’s not a rule of thumb, but towels labeled as “Turkish cotton” or “Made in Turkey” performed better in the GH tests than those claiming to be made of “Egyptian” cotton. In theory, they’re very similar: Both are long-staple fibers, helping to make the fabrics softer and more durable. However, Turkish cotton is more popular in bath towels and is known for drying faster than Egyptian cotton.
To stop your towels from shedding fluff wash them before use. Sometimes there are loose fibers leftover from the production process, but laundering the towels a few times should help get rid of them. Pro tip: Washing them also makes them more absorbent because it gets rid of leftover finishes from production.
Top Recommended Towels
I am sharing a few of GH’s recommendations – best overall, value, absorbent, and sets. Click on each link will take you directly to the towels:
Best Overall Bath Towel – Pottery Barn Hydrocotton Quick-Drying Towels earned the highest overall score in our test and stood out for being super soft and ultra-absorbent. They are on clearance right now!
Best Value Bath Towel – Amazon Basics 2-Pack Towel Set is absorbent, soft, and held up well to laundering without shedding lint, which is impressive for 100% cotton towels.
Best Quick Dry Bath Towel – Everplush Diamond Jacquard Bath Towel 2-Pack. This editor-favorite pick has a unique construction of cotton on the outside so you feel the softness, but microfiber on the inside for enhanced performance. The result makes it absorbent, quick-drying, strong, and shrink-resistant.
I’ve rounded up all of Good Housekeeping’s Best Towels of 2022 here so you can look around for the style, color, and price best for you. Personally, I love towel sets so I get it all done in one shopping trip and this six-piece set from Walmart has almost 1,000 five-star reviews. I love the cherry blossom color.
How to Wash Your Towels
To keep your towels soft, help reduce leftover odor, and make them soft, add vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser. This tip was shared with me years ago, as a newlywed, when I purchased towels. The vinegar helps set the color of the towels, removes excess detergent residue which leads to that funky odor in the drum and on your clothes, and is a natural, chemical-free fabric softener. I buy jugs of vinegar at Costco and keep them on the shelf next to my machine. If the smell of vinegar is off-putting give The Laundress Scented Vinegar a try. Combining their popular No. 247 scent (Pine, eucalyptus, and fresh-picked greens) with vinegar, this multipurpose product gets glassware to sparkle, easily removes bathtub film, effectively tackles messes and odors in the kitchen, and more! Use code LAUNDRY22 for 25% of $50 or more, plus receive a free Artisan Fabric Fresh.
I also like the smell of bleached towels – it reminds me of hotel towels. I add just a splash to the dispenser, but I have also used The Laundress Bleach Alternative. Free of harsh chemical smells, this powerful alternative to chlorine bleach works wonders to safely remove dirt, stains, and odors. Add to the wash cycle to whiten and brighten clothes—You can also use this single product to clean your entire home— tiles, sinks, and surfaces.
I have a front loading washer and to keep my washer tub free from that moldy gross smell front loaders often get, I use Molly’s Suds. It’s a natural plant-based detergent, safe for sensitive skin (my family), scented with peppermint essential oil, and super concentrated. One tablespoon does the trick. The best part is no after smell! I use Amazon’s subscribe and save and purchased one bag at $14.99 every three months!
I hope this post helps you narrow down your search for the perfect towel to make your bathroom spa worthy!